March 12, 2004

'Ghetto Fab' Party Provokes Debates

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Last night a group of students headed by minority organization leaders congregated in the Latino Living Center to discuss the controversial “ghetto fabulous” party at Zeta Beta Tau fraternity. Two weekends ago, a fraternity member coming from the party was reported to the Interfraterntiy Council as having enacted “apparent disrespectful stereotypes regarding people of color” according to an IFC statement released last Wednesday and a source close to the investigation.

The group opened discussion about the various rumors that have spread since the incident including word that a fraternity member had appeared in “blackface.”

Victoria Lopez, residential hall director of the LLC related what investigations have found, “There was a one-on-one incidence between two people who were on there way to a ghetto fabulous party. It was a mixer, so we know that a sorority co-sponsored it.

There is no evidence of people dressing up in ‘black face’ or using derogatory language” Lopez said.

Various students have cited five parties in the three weeks before the incident, though some have deflected criticism citing their party as a “rapper” or “hip-hop” themed event. Many of the people in attendance for the discussion questioned the truth behind such explanations as well as the true numbers of such incidents occurring in Greek life at Cornell.

Other Institutions

“Parties like this do take place, at other institutions. This particular organization is being singled out at Cornell. However they were just the ones that got caught. Of course, the Greek community will be coming out to address this because it is an important issue. It is the issue of race.” Lopez said.

Students in attendance questioned the source of such stereotypes that may have arisen in the Greek system in and outside of Cornell. The group discussed what the difference is between racial jests at fraternity parties and programs such as The David Chappelle Show.


“[Chappelle] is coming from an informed perspective, so he is a cultural satirist. These party-goers are not. Really, they are not making fun of hip-hop, they are making fun of you and me. They are trying to cover it up by saying it is a hip-hop party. Then again, can we blame them for having this impression? I mean can we blame them when we constantly see videos on like that video that was playing on the TV when we all walked into the room” said Risley RHD Benjamin Oritiz commenting on a “G-Unit” music video.


“Well, we know that ‘The Source’ is doing a campaign against Eminem because his lyrics make fun of black people, but what about the artists like 50 Cent that also perpetuate this stereotype?” said

John Rawlins III, a staff member of the Office of Minority Education Affairs.

Some of the students tried to focus on why the idea of a ghetto fabulous party at Cornell disgusted them instead of the broader implications of race. One major point made was that ‘ghetto’ is an issue of class.


“Ghetto is not a culture, not a lifestyle — we should get that out of our mind. With the types of stereotypes that are being continued, why does it have to be a associated with ghetto fabulous?” said Dacia Beard.

“If you genuinely celebrate hip-hop culture, that’s fine. But when you begin to make fun of it, that’s where I find a problem” said Stacia Webster.


The discussion went over the allotted time of one hour. However, by the end many of the students expressed feelings of non-activity. One student proposed a letter-writing campaign to deans to initiate diversity course requirements, diversity seminars, and even befriending others from different races to promote education through integration.

Archived article by Teah Colson